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2017

Healthy New Year! | December 2017 | Public Square [ENCORE]

January heralds the beginning of a New Year and for many, a resolution to practice a healthier lifestyle. According to the 13th annual State of Obesity report, Louisiana now has the highest rate of adult obesity in the country. So, what is the best approach to shedding pounds in a state where cuisine is part of its culture? Which diet is the most effective for losing weight? What weight loss surgeries are available and how safe are they? And what role does exercise play in the health equation? Louisiana Public Square searches for answers on “Healthy New Year!” Wednesday, January 25 at 7pm on LPB HD and in New Orleans on WLAE.

Louisiana: Sportsman's Paradise or Problem? | November 2017 | Public Square

Is Louisiana a Sportsman’s Paradise or Problem? For decades Louisiana has proclaimed itself as the “Sportsman’s Paradise.” But for today’s hunters, changes to Louisiana’s landscape have caused a decline in the quality of the state’s deer habitat and smaller game. For coastal fishermen, private property rights often unduly restrict access to waters that are considered public in any other state. Louisiana Public Square explores some of the challenges that the state’s hunters and anglers face on “Louisiana: Sportsman’s Paradise or Problem?”

Louisiana Veterans Coming Home | September 2017 | Public Square

What challenges do our returning veterans face? Soldiers returning from the Vietnam Conflict in many cases faced a hostile homecoming. Post-9/11 veterans, conversely, have been welcomed with open arms. Despite the different reception the American public gave them, both sets of soldiers have shared similar difficulties transitioning back to civilian life. Last year as part of the Veterans Coming Home public media initiative, we explored the challenges that returning veterans face and the numerous state resources that are available to them. Louisiana Public Square explores these issues in a special town hall event. Airs Wednesday, September 27, 9:00 pm on LPB. Since 2001, 2.6 million service men and women have been deployed to support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Louisiana joins 11 other states with the second highest percentage of veterans aged 25 and under. The needs for these younger veterans as they return stateside are plentiful including securing civilian employment, obtaining healthcare and oftentimes housing, and addressing the mental rigors of transitioning from military to civilian life. And with less than one-half of 1% of the U.S. population in the armed services today, reintegrating service members into communities whose understanding of war is gleaned largely from television may be as difficult as fighting a war. So, what challenges face our returning veterans; what resources are available to assist them and how do we bridge the “Military/Civilian Divide?” Louisiana Public Square explores these issues and more on a special town hall edition, “Louisiana Veterans Coming Home” aired Wednesday, May 25 at 7 p.m. on LPB HD. This program is part of Veterans Coming Home, a public media effort to support veterans made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

HIV/AIDS in Louisiana | October 2017 | Public Square

How many people are living with HIV/AIDS in Louisiana and what resources are available to them? Baton Rouge and New Orleans consistently rank among the top three cities nationwide for the highest HIV and AIDS rates per capita. And in rural Louisiana, the number of new HIV infections has risen slightly with infected individuals more likely to escalate to an AIDS diagnosis. So, how many people are living with HIV/AIDS in Louisiana and what resources are available to assist them? Why has the state seen an overall decline in new HIV diagnosis but an increase in its rural areas? What affect is the PrEP drug regimen having on stabilizing and preventing the disease? Louisiana Public Square looks for answers to these questions and more on “HIV/AIDS in Louisiana.” Our Panel: • Eugene Collins, HIV/AIDS Alliance for Region Two (HAART) • Jamar Ennis, Louisiana Youth for Excellence • Tavell Kindall, The Greater Ouachita Coalition Providing AIDS Resources (GOCARE) • Lauren Richey, M.D., Infectious Diseases, LSU Health Sciences Center The program also features interviews with DeAnn Gruber, Ph.D. with the Louisiana Department of Health; Monica Johnson, the HIV+ founder of the northeast Louisiana support group, H.E.R.O.E.S.; and Waref Azmeh, M.D., infectious disease physician with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Baton Rouge.

Studying TOPS | August 2017 | Public Square

Is TOPS a worthwhile incentive or a middle-class tax break? Louisiana’s TOPS program provides free in-state college tuition for qualifying students. Up until recently, TOPS has covered the full amount so as tuition rose, so did the award. The state’s cost of funding the program has nearly tripled over the last ten years. Students entering their senior year of high school this fall will face new regulations. TOPS awards will no longer automatically rise as tuition increases. That means TOPS recipients and their families will pay for the difference unless the Legislature specifically votes to raise TOPS again. A legislative task force will study how to sustain the program this fall. So, is TOPS a worthwhile incentive or a middle-class tax break? Should TOPS be based on financial need? Should GPA standards be raised for recipients? Should TOPS graduates be required to stay in the state or pay back the award? Louisiana Public Square looks for answers to these questions and more on “Studying TOPS” Wednesday, August 23 at 7 p.m. on LPB and in New Orleans on WLAE. (Recording Tuesday, August 22)

Industrial Tax Matters | July 2017 | Public Square

What has been the impact of the changes made to the tax exemption plan? Until recently, large industrial businesses that relocate or expand in Louisiana were eligible for a five-year waiver of their local property taxes with a nearly automatic five-year renewal. Proponents of the Industrial Tax Exemption Program (ITEP) say it stimulates investment in the state and creates jobs. Critics of the program say that the tax exemption reduces resources for local taxing entities and services. While the ITEP was championed by former Gov. Bobby Jindal, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced modifications to the program in 2016. What has been the impact of the changes made to the tax exemption plan? How effective is the ITEP in growing jobs? What has the program’s cost been to local communities? Louisiana Public Square explores these questions and more on “Industrial Tax Matters.“ Our panelists are: - Wendy Aguillard, Calcasieu Parish Tax Assessor - Broderick Bagert, Together Baton Rouge - Greg Bowser, La. Chemical Association - Sec. Don Pierson, Louisiana Economic Development Barry Erwin, President of Council for a Better Louisiana (CABL) and member of the Task Force on Structural Changes in Budget & Tax Policy, will moderate the discussion. The comments and opinions expressed in this program are those of the individuals and do not represent those of Louisiana Public Broadcasting. This program is funded in part by Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America, WNET’s multi-platform public media Initiative that aims to provide a deeper understanding of the impact of poverty on American society. Major funding for this initiative is provided by The JPB Foundation. Additional funding is provided by Ford Foundation and the Annie E. Casey Foundation https://media2.lpb.org/images/CTD_WithSubHead.png

Black & the Blue | June 2017 | Public Square [ENCORE]

What can be done to improve trust among the police and the public they serve? Last year’s shooting of an African-American male in Baton Rouge by two white police officers re-ignited a national debate on how law enforcement interacts with minority communities. Nationwide demonstrations were ultimately marred by the targeted ambush of 12 white officers in Dallas and the killing of three members of law enforcement in Baton Rouge. What can be done to improve trust among the police and the public they serve? How can Louisiana’s Capital City productively move beyond these events? Louisiana Public Square looks for answers on a special town hall edition, “Black & the Blue”.

Reforming Criminal Justice | May 2017 | Public Square

Should alternatives to prison be used for criminals charged with non-violent offenses? Louisiana is the prison capital of the world. Its incarceration rate is nearly double the rest of the country. And while Louisiana incarcerates violent offenders at a rate comparable to other southern states, nonviolent offenders are imprisoned at a much higher rate. A package of bills being proposed this legislative session attacks the mass incarceration problem from a number of angles. Should alternatives to prison be used for criminals charged with non-violent offenses? Should judges have more flexibility in sentencing? Should the state increase more opportunities for probation and parole? Should Louisiana pay sheriffs less for housing work release inmates? Louisiana Public Square looks for answers to these questions and more on “Reforming Criminal Justice” Wednesday, May 24 at 9 p.m. on LPB HD and in New Orleans on WLAE.

Coastal Restoration: The Next Wave | April 2017 | Public Square

What new funding resources are available to the state? Louisiana is in a battle against devastating land loss. The state’s 2017 updated coastal restoration Master Plan will be presented to the Legislature during the regular session that begins this month. For the first time in its history, Louisiana will have significant funding to begin implementing coastal projects, as the first of the state's long awaited oil and gas revenues kick in this year. Critics of large river diversion projects fear fresh water will devastate salt water species and marsh grasses and take too long to have a measurable impact. Critics of dredging argue it is costly, only builds small areas, and may not be the best use of limited resources. But is it an either-or question? What new funding resources are available to the state? Wednesday, April 26 at 7PM Our panelists are • Bren Haase; Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority • Denise Reed, Ph.D.; The Water Institute of the Gulf • Captain George Ricks; The Save Louisiana Coalition • Mark Schleifstein; journalist, The Times Picayune LPB CEO, Beth Courtney, and television news anchor, Andre’ Moreau, host the program.

Fiscal Reform | March 2017 | Public Square

Is it time to reform Louisiana’s tax code? For the past several years, Louisiana’s state budget has repeatedly fallen short of revenue projections, sometimes multiple times per year. These budget gaps have been bridged through cuts, temporary tax increases and patchwork fixes. Is it time to reform Louisiana’s tax code? During the 2017 Regular Legislative session, lawmakers will be considering recommendations to do just that. Can the state broaden its tax base while lowering rates and omitting tax exemptions and credits? What changes may be in store for personal and corporate income taxes and sales and property taxes? How can the state restructure its tax code to be more fair and competitive with other states? Louisiana Public Square explores the issue of “Fiscal Reform 2017” on Wednesday, March 22 at 7 p.m. on LPB HD and on WLAE in New Orleans. (Recording on Tuesday, March 21.) Our panelists are: • Camille Conaway; Louisiana Association of Business & Industry • Sen. Jack Donahue, R-Mandeville; Senate Finance Committee • Jan Moller; Louisiana Budget Project • James Richardson, Ph.D., LSU E.J. Ourso College of Business The program includes interviews with Michael Olivier with the Committee of 100; Randy Roach, Mayor of Lake Charles and Representative Jay Morris, R-Monroe, member of the House Ways and Means Committee. LPB CEO, Beth Courtney, and Robert Travis Scott, president of the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana, host the discussion.

Louisiana Public Square

Louisiana Public Square is LPB’s monthly public affairs program. It provides citizens a forum to voice their opinions and concerns about issues affecting Louisiana to leading experts and key decision makers. LPB has received state and national recognition for the series and we are proud that it serves as a model for other stations around the country. One of the primary goals of Louisiana Public Square is to allow different points of view to be expressed and heard. Oftentimes we have seen attitudinal changes of discussion participants after being exposed to other opinions on the program. (You can track these changes in attitude at our surveys link.)

One of the key features of this format is the depth and insightfulness of the discussion and questions generated in the crucible of citizen deliberations on a small group level. These queries are informed by not only the background material, but by the give-and-take dynamic of an open forum, skillfully moderated so that all are encouraged to speak their mind.

Louisiana Public Square evolved from the deliberative democracy concept of the MacNeil/Lehrer Productions’ By The People initiative. The goal is to encourage civic engagement and civil discourse – the foundations of a strong democracy.